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December 2006

WORKING GROUP ADDRESSES REPORT ON ANIMAL GENETIC RESOURCES

Held from 13-15 December 2006, at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture reviewed the first draft of “The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture,” which represents the most comprehensive assessment of global farm animal genetic diversity attempted so far. According to the draft, which is based on data from 169 countries, some 60 breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry have been lost over the last five years. “Maintaining animal genetic diversity will allow future generations to select stocks or develop new breeds to cope with emerging issues, such as climate change, diseases and changing socio-economic factors,” the secretary of FAO's Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, José Esquinas-Alcázar, said. Approximately 20 percent of domestic animal breeds are currently at risk of extinction, with a breed lost each month due to a globalization of livestock markets, which favors high-output breeds over a multiple gene pool that would be vital for future food security.

Links to further information UN press release, 15 December 2006 Meeting website Meeting documents
ASCOBANS MOP ELECTS TO MERGE ASCOBANS WITH CMS SECRETARIAT

On 12 December 2006, the 5th Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) met for a second session in The Hague, the Netherlands. At this meeting, eight out of ten parties voted to merge the Secretariats of UNEP/ASCOBANS and UNEP/Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). On 31 December 2006, the ASCOBANS Secretariat therefore ceased to exist and Secretariat functions were assumed by the Secretariat of UNEP/CMS. The Executive Secretary of UNEP/CMS Robert Hepworth took over as Acting Executive Secretary to ASCOBANS on 1 January 2007.

Link to further information ASCOBANS News
GEF CEO Proposes Shorter Project Cycle and Reduced Pipeline at Council Meeting

8 December 2006: The Global Environment Facility's (GEF) CEO Monique Barbut opened the 5-8 December 2006 Council meeting in Washington DC, US, with a proposed “Five Point Sustainability Compact to Increase Efficiency and Impact.” Her proposal included: shifting from a project-driven to a programmatic approach by focusing strategies on a clear set of priority issues for the global environment; reducing the current project pipeline in half; appointing an “Ombudsman” in the GEF Secretariat to respond to country concerns or complaints; and redesigning the project approval cycle to reduce it from 66 to 22 months. The Council adopted decisions on several issues, including decisions to: consider options to reduce project preparation and approval cycles to less than 22 months; adopt objective criteria for project selection, pipeline management and cancellation; recommend to the Fourth GEF Assembly to designate GEF as the financial mechanism for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); and further consider the roles and comparative advantages of GEF Agencies. The Council also approved a biosafety strategy to enhance the cost-effectiveness of capacity building efforts to implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The strategy will require all projects to perform a stock-taking assessment to determine clearly defined targets, and will promote the funding of regional and subregional full-sized projects when there are opportunities for cost-effective sharing of limited resources and coordination between biosafety frameworks. It will also promote medium-sized country projects or multi-country thematic projects when these are most effective. On 8 December, the Council also approved new projects within the Climate Change Convention's Special Climate Change Fund and Least Developed Country Fund (SCCF and LDC Funds). [GEF CEO's speech, 5 December 2006] [GEF Talking Points, November 2006] [GEF Council Documents, December 2006]
WIPO COMMITTEE ESTABLISHES PROCESS TO DISCUSS TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE PROTECTION

The tenth session of WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, which met from 30 November to 8 December 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland, agreed on a way forward for negotiations regarding the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore. The Committee agreed to allow discussion on substantive issues but not on the basis of drafts previously prepared by the WIPO Secretariat, which have been partially rejected by some members. Instead, the Committee adopted two lists of issues that it agreed would be the focus of future discussions. The Committee requested delegates and observers to provide input on these core issues, which cover questions such as definitions of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, the form and scope of protection, and the nature of the beneficiaries. With regard to genetic resources, the Secretariat was requested to prepare a working document listing options for continuing discussions or further work, including in the area of the disclosure requirement and alternative proposals for dealing with: the relationship between intellectual property and genetic resources; the interface between the patent system and genetic resources; and the intellectual property aspects of access and benefit-sharing contracts. Several countries called for negotiations towards an international instrument on genetic resources.

Links to further information WIPO press release, 12 December 2006 Meeting decisions IP Watch, 5 December 2006 IP Watch, 6 December 2006 IP Watch, 6 December 2006 IP Watch, 16 December 2006 ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 15 December 2006
UNGA COMMITTEE APPROVES SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT RESOLUTIONS, CONCLUDES SESSION

The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concluded its session on 6 December 2006, after adopting draft resolutions on, inter alia: the Implementation of Agenda 21, requesting the Secretary-General to submit reports on energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air/pollution atmosphere and climate change; the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea, urging States to develop programmes to halt the loss of marine biodiversity; the Convention on Biological Diversity, noting the progress made in negotiating the international regime on genetic resources and benefit-sharing by the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group; the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, reiterating the need for stable, adequate and predictable financial resources; and the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, calling for the integration of desertification into national strategies for sustainable development. The Committee was not able to reach consensus on a draft resolution on Climate Change, due to a provision endorsing the linkage between the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) secretariat and the United Nations. Several delegations, including the European Union and G-77/China, expressed regret over this. The paragraph was included in the resolution only after a vote in which 108 countries supported the text and two (Japan and the US) opposed its inclusion. There were 49 abstentions. The resolution as a whole was also approved by a recorded vote with 114 votes in favor, none against, and 49 abstentions. The resolution calls on countries to work together to achieve the objective of the UNFCCC and notes the decisions taken at the recent UN Climate Change Conference – Nairobi 2006. Link to further information UN press release (8 December 2006)
CODEX TO WORK ON ACCIDENTAL PRESENCE OF GMOS

The Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology, at its 27 November to 1 December 2006 meeting in Chiba, Japan, agreed to a US proposal to undertake new work on developing guidance on safety assessment in cases of accidental presence of genetically modified organisms. Members also decided to establish an electronic working group to work on a draft annex on the safety assessment of foods derived from plants genetically modified for nutritional or health benefits, and deferred consideration of antibiotic resistance marker genes until the next session. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 15 December 2006 Meeting documents

November 2006

PARTIES TO THE UNECE WATER CONVENTION ADOPT RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE PAYMENTS FOR ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

The fourth meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes convened from 20-22 November 2006 in Bonn, Germany. At the meeting, which marked the tenth anniversary since the Convention's entry into force, parties reviewed and endorsed the activities carried out in the last three years and adopted their workplan for 2007-2009. Participants were presented a Preliminary assessment of transboundary rivers in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and of selected lakes in the UNECE region, adopted new model provisions on transboundary flood management and recommendations on the payments for ecosystem services in integrated water resources management, and decided to focus their future joint work on water and climate change and to develop a Strategy for the UNECE Region on Water and Climate Adaptation. During discussion of the Preliminary assessment of transboundary rivers in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and of selected lakes in the UNECE region, parties reaffirmed that the assessment is an important tool to evaluate compliance with the Convention and the progress achieved to protect and sustainably manage transboundary waters. The complete assessment for the whole UNECE Region will be submitted at the Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” in Belgrade in October 2007. The Model provisions on transboundary flood management that parties adopted set out riparian countries' obligations that could be included in legal instruments on transboundary waters or on flood management. By adopting these provisions, riparian countries commit to exchange information, cooperate in setting up warning and alarm systems and develop a long-term flood-management strategy. The Recommendations on the payments for ecosystem services in integrated water resources management that parties adopted indicate measures to internalize costs and benefits of the services provided by water related ecosystems. The Recommendations will assist decision makers in making economically efficient, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable decisions. Parties also decided to develop pilot projects to test their application. Participants further decided to focus their future joint work on water and climate change and to develop a Strategy for the UNECE Region on Water and Climate Adaptation. The Strategy will address possible impacts of climate change on flood and drought occurrences, health related aspects as well as practical ways to cope with transboundary impacts through adaptation. Another innovative decision of the Meeting was the involvement of the Convention and its secretariat in the development of National Policy Dialogues (NDP) in EECCA countries within the framework of the EU Water Initiative. The NPD will assist countries to develop integrated water resource management plans, analyze water reform needs and define strategies to attain the agreed targets through a participatory process. The first policy dialogue will be launched in Moldova. Links to further information Fourth Meeting of the Parties website UNECE Water Convention website
CITES GREAT APE ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE MEETS

The CITES Great Ape Enforcement Task Force met from 31 October-2 November 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya. According to IISD sources, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda participated as range States and Kenya attended to represent transit countries. The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO)-Interpol, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force and the World Customs Organization also participated. A half-day session was allocated for representatives of non-governmental organizations to interact with Task Force members. After exchanging information regarding illicit trade in great apes in each of the countries represented, the Task Force then focused on ways to combat such trade and support range States. It was noted that insufficient information was available regarding the nature of the trade and a country profile form was designed to gather more data. The Task Force also developed the suggested design for a poster to be distributed to Customs, police and wildlife offices, especially at ports and other places where illicit trade occurs, to help raise awareness. Lastly, the Task Force identified the need for training and capacity building for law enforcement personnel. The CITES Secretariat is currently investigating ways in which that might be provided. Link to further information CITES Great Apes Programme

October 2006

TRIPS COUNCIL STILL DIVIDED ON GENETIC RESOURCES AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE

At the TRIPS Council meeting on 25-26 October 2006, members discussed the issue of intellectual property and genetic resources but no progress has been reported. Peru submitted a new paper elaborating on its earlier submission on biopiracy cases, to strengthen many developing countries' prior proposals to amend the TRIPS Agreement to incorporate a requirement to disclose the origin of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge in patent applications, along with evidence of prior informed consent and benefit-sharing. A number of developed countries still opposed the amendment, arguing that there is no conflict between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). These countries also supported the creation of international traditional knowledge databases for use by patent examiners, an idea that has been opposed by indigenous groups. Links to further information Bridges Trade BioRes, vol. 6, no. 19, 3 November 2006 IP Watch, 10 October 2006 IP Watch, 25 October 2006 IP Watch, 27 October 2006 IP Watch, 1 November 2006
CITES STANDING COMMITTEE CONVENES

The 54th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee convened from 2-6 October 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland, attracting over 300 delegates. The meeting's agenda included: the CITES Strategic Plan for 2008-2013; preparation for the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-14); financial matters; review of the scientific committees; and trade and conservation issues in species including great apes, elephants, tigers, sturgeon and bigleaf mahogany. The Standing Committee (SC) approved the Secretariat's estimated expenditures for 2006, and set a deadline for the submission of comments on the CITES Strategic Plan 2008-2013. It also agreed, inter alia, to: defer consideration of trade in tigers to COP-14; review timber trade in Peru and Malaysia at future SC meetings; designate Japan as a trading partner for the one-off sale of ivory stockpiles from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, but not to proceed with the sale at this point; and withdraw the recommendation on suspending trade in the four Caspian Sea sturgeon species, but not to revise the 2006 caviar export quotas. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting
EXPERTS DISCUSS OPTIONS FOR BIODIVERSITY SCIENTIFIC BODY

The Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, Germany, has gathered approximately 30 scientists, practitioners, and representatives of national and international institutions and civil society to discuss the needs and gaps of existing biodiversity scientific mechanisms and address new options. The workshop on “International Science-Policy Interfaces for Biodiversity Governance: Needs, Challenges, Experiences,” which convened from 2-4 October 2006, sought to contribute to the ongoing consultative process regarding the proposal to create an International Mechanism on Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB). The workshop was co-organized and funded by the European Commission (DG Research and DG Environment), the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona (Institut de Sciencia/Tecnologia Ambientals), the German Agency for Nature Protection and the UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig. Participants developed “The Leipzig Recommendations,” which highlight specific elements of such a mechanism with regard to its mandate, internal process, as well as its outputs and outcomes. Recommendations include calls for creating a “mechanism for dialogue and exchange among holders of diverse knowledge and knowledge systems (i.e., all forms of traditional and modern knowledge and science)” and for fostering “deeper understanding of the ways in which biodiversity loss and change transcend scales (spatial, temporal, etc.) and jurisdictional boundaries.”

Links to further information Workshop press release, 11 October 2006 Workshop Recommendations Workshop Participants
WIPO GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADDRESSES DEVELOPMENT AGENDA, GENETIC RESOURCES AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE

Held from 25 September to 3 October 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland, the 33rd session of the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reviewed the activities of the organization over the past year and agreed on future work. Among many issues, the Assembly agreed to renew the mandate of the Provisional Committee on Proposals related to a WIPO Development Agenda for another year, to allow discussions on all proposals made. With regard to the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, the Assembly underlined the importance of accelerating the committee's work and generating tangible results, and welcomed the implementation of the Voluntary Fund to finance the participation of representatives of indigenous and local communities. Links to further information WIPO press release, 3 October 2006 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, 4 October 2006 IP Watch, 25 September 2006 IP Watch, 30 September 2006 IP Watch, 4 October 2006

September 2006

CMS STANDING COMMITTEE NOMINATES ADDITIONAL SCIENTIFIC COUNCILLORS

Held from 28-29 September 2006, in Bonn, Germany, the 31st meeting of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Standing Committee heard reports on the accession of new Parties to the Convention and on intersessional activities since November 2005, as well as reports from Committee members and observers. It also discussed: issues regarding the 2010 biodiversity target; cooperation with other conventions; developments regarding the Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza; and a work plan and priorities for 2007-2008 and beyond. According to IISD sources, the Committee identified as a top priority the development of new agreements regarding grassland birds of South America and cetaceans in the Eastern Atlantic. Amongst existing Agreements, it prioritized those protecting Saiga antelope, the Central Asian Flyway, and Gorillas in western, central and east Africa, western African turtles and elephants, and Pacific Island cetaceans. The meeting also discussed a high-level hunting party in Niger in September 2006, resulting in the presumed killing of a large number of protected animals. A closed session, reserved for Committee members, observer States and senior CMS Secretariat officers, agreed on the conditions for a possible merger of the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) with the CMS Secretariat, changes to Secretariat manpower and organization, and a resolution regarding additional scientific councillors, approving the nominations of Zeb Hogan, Barry Baker and Alfred Oteng-Yeboah as Scientific Councillors for fish, by-catch and African fauna respectively. It was proposed that the next meeting of the Standing Committee would take place from 6-7 September 2007, while CMS COP-9 would convene from 9-21 November 2008. The meeting concluded by agreeing on a statement to support the new East Asia/Australasian flyway partnership. Link to further information Meeting documents
SAIGA ANTELOPE MEETING ENDORSES WORK PROGRAMME

The first meeting of the signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the Saiga Antelope (Saiga Tatarica Tatarica), a cooperative initiative between the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), was convened from 25-26 September, in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It was preceded by a technical workshop, held on 23 September. In development for almost five years under the auspices of CMS, the MoU entered into effect on 24 September, when Kazakhstan signed, joining Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The technical workshop and the MoU meeting have provided the possibility to collect new information on the Saiga's conservation status: the overview report indicates that the previous severe decline in the global Saiga population has stabilized since 2002 with increases reported for some populations. According to IISD sources, the meeting endorsed a medium term international work programme, which prioritizes activities under the MoU's action plan on a range wide and population basis, and provides a road map for the range States, consumer/trading countries, interested organizations and the donor community to organize their activities in support of the MoU's implementation. The meeting helped achieve a sense of ownership in the process and partnership within the research and conservation communities both within and between the range States and consumer countries such as China. Links to further information The meeting's documents CMS press release, 24 September 2006
CONFERENCE ON BIODIVERSITY IN EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION CONCLUDES

Organized by IUCN-the World Conservation Union and the European Commission, the Conference on “Biodiversity in European Development Cooperation” was held from 19-21 September 2006, in Paris, France. Focusing on biodiversity conservation and human wellbeing, the Conference addressed eight themes: ecosystem services' contributions to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); ecosystem services in national development and poverty reduction strategies; challenges for present aid modalities; communication and education; innovative financial mechanisms; trade and economic cooperation; governance and stakeholder engagement; and EU Overseas Countries and Territories. The Conference outputs consist of a summary of the proceedings and a Message from Paris, including recommendations for the EC and EU member States. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the conference
NORTHERN CETACEANS MEETING ADJOURNS AFTER BUSY SESSION

The first session of the fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS)—an agreement adopted under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species—took place from 18-20 September 2006, in Egmond aan Zee, the Netherlands. The Meeting was adjourned and is expected to reconvene for a second session, to be held in The Hague, the Netherlands, in mid-December 2006. According to IISD sources, the meeting laid the groundwork for an increase in ASCOBANS activities in the coming years. Participants discussed and adopted resolutions on numerous issues, including: the implementation of the Jastarnia Plan; the further development of a recovery plan for the North Sea; the extension of the agreement area approved at MOP-4 (and expected to enter into force in 2007); the possible extension of the scope of the agreement to cover all species of cetaceans (including the great whales) in the area; scientific workshops to be carried out within the framework of the Agreement; and outreach and educational work. Parties and NGOs underscored the importance of the agreement ASCOBANS in cetacean conservation. The second session of MOP-5 in December 2006 will likely be devoted mainly to budgetary issues and institutional arrangements for the Secretariat. Link to further information Report of the meeting
HIGH-LEVEL TASK FORCE FOCUSES ON 2010 BIODIVERSITY TARGET

The first meeting of the Heads of Agencies Task Force on the 2010 biodiversity target discussed areas for collaboration on the 2010 target and identified focal points within each agency for this collaboration. The Task Force, which met on 15 September 2006, in Gland, Switzerland, includes representatives of UNEP, UNDP, FAO, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNITAR, as well as the CBD, CITES, CMS, the Ramsar Convention, IUCN, WWF and the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute. Speaking on the eve of the meeting, FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Müller welcomed the recent proposal of the UN Secretary-General to establish a new target under MDG-7 to reduce the loss of biodiversity significantly by 2010. At the meeting, CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf and Director of UNEP-WCMC Jon Hutton signed a joint work programme between the two institutions. The programme identifies areas in which UNEP-WCMC can assist the CBD in building capacity for implementation of the Convention.

Links to further information FAO News Release, 13 September 2006 CBD Photos, 15 September 2006

August 2006

GEF Assembly and Council Convene: US$3.13 Billion Replenishment Approved

28 August 2006: A Special Meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council has approved a Fourth GEF replenishment, with 32 governments agreeing to contribute US$3.13 billion to finance environmental projects over the next four years. The Council also agreed on the governance of the climate change funds, specifying, inter alia, that decisions of the Council concerning the operations of the Adaptation Fund be taken by consensus among all Council members representing participants that are parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The Council meeting, which concluded many months' negotiations on the replenishment issue, was held on 28 August 2006, in Cape Town, South Africa. Immediately after the Council meeting, the Third GEF Assembly convened, also in Cape Town, from 29-30 August. Representatives of 176 countries that are currently members of the GEF reviewed the Facility's policies and operations, meeting in Plenary and in a series of roundtables and panel discussions. During the opening Plenary, Monique Barbut, GEF's new CEO, highlighted GEF's priorities for each of its focal areas, while GEF partners presented conclusions and results of projects' implementation. Delegates took note of reports on the GEF Trust Fund and the Third Overall Performance Study of the GEF and on enhancing partnerships through NGO engagement. During the subsequent discussion, participants raised concerns over the provision of funding for land degradation and desertification, and the application of the new Resource Allocation Framework (RAF). On the RAF, many delegates noted their concerns about limitations with regard to innovation, inequitable distribution of resources across countries and focal areas, and a lack of a long-term vision. Some donors, however, praised the RAF for allocating resources on a strategic basis, and for increasing transparency of operations and results. The RAF was also addressed in one of the three High-level roundtables; the other two focusing on market-based mechanisms for financing global environmental conventions, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. [IISD RS Coverage of the GEF Assembly] [GEF Press Release, 28 August 2006] [GEF Council Documents] [GEF Assembly Documents]
CONGRESS OF CONSERVATION BIOLOGY HELD IN EUROPE

Held from 23-26 August 2006, in Eger, Hungary, the first European Congress of Conservation Biology gathered more than 1500 scientists, conservationists and policy makers. Plenary sessions addressed biodiversity loss in Europe; ambiguities in the EU plan to halt biodiversity loss by 2010; and the impact of climate change upon the development of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. Plenary sessions were complemented by several technical events, including a symposium on the diversity of important transboundary wetlands in Europe.

Links to further information Progress on transboundary cooperation in Europe – report fro... Congress website

July 2006

CITES SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEES CONCLUDE

The Plants and Animals Committees of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have concluded after meeting in Lima, Peru throughout early to mid-July. The 16th meeting of the CITES Plants Committee convened from 3-8 July 2006. From 7-8 July, a joint session was held with the Animals Committee, which met separately for its 22nd meeting from 7-13 July. The Plants Committee agreed not to subject bigleaf mahogany to a review of significant trade at this stage, established an intersessional working group on Prunus africana, and discussed a proposal on timber export quotas to be presented at CITES COP-14, to be held in June 2007. The joint session addressed a number of issues relevant to both committees, including: proposed amendments to the rules of procedure; the review of the scientific committees; the review of significant trade in Madagascar; transport of live specimens; and the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Animals Committee addressed a review of significant trade for a number of new species, reached agreement on sea cucumbers, sharks and the historically challenging definition of fossil corals, and established informal intersessional groups to continue work on crocodile ranching and the transport of live specimens.

Link to further information Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the meetings
CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION CALLS FOR GUIDELINES ON ANIMAL AND PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY

The Codex Alimentarius Commission has directed the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology to elaborate guidelines to help countries create their own safety standards and regulatory framework regarding genetically modified animals. The latest meeting, which was held in Geneva from 3-7 July 2006, also resulted in a decision to direct the Intergovernmental Task Force to further elaborate standards for plants used in factories that produce industrial or pharmaceutical compounds. The Commission approved principles for tracing food through production and distribution processes, as well as guidelines for ensuring that imported food is safe for human health and in compliance with importing countries' food safety requirements.

Links to further information Official documents for the meeting, July 2006 ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, Codex adopts standards on tracea..., 14 July 2006

June 2006

MADAGASCAR MEETING FOCUSES ON BIODIVERSITY AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

A symposium held in late June has focused on biodiversity's role as an engine for sustainable economic development in Africa. Organized by Conservation International, titled “Defying Nature's End: the African context,” was held from 20-24 June 2006 in Madagascar. It was attended by government officials and representatives of international organizations, conservation groups and local communities, including President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar and Jeffrey Sachs, head of the UN Millennium Project. The symposium examined how biodiversity can be conserved and become an engine for economic development in Africa. The final declaration calls for creating and expanding markets for Africa's nature, such as ecotourism and carbon trading. Other necessary steps include: expanding protected area networks and creating sustainable financing mechanisms; protecting and restoring key ecological systems linked to freshwater supply and quality; providing economic incentives for local communities to manage their forests and other natural resources sustainably; ensuring that government spending on poverty reduction is based on environmental sustainability; including the business community in seeking solutions to environmental degradation caused by industrial development; and prioritizing sustainable agriculture practices and alternatives to fuelwood and charcoal as energy sources.

Link to further information Conservation International press release (24 June 2006)
ITPGR GOVERNING BODY ADOPTS STANDARD MATERIAL TRANSFER AGREEMENT

The first session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) has adopted a standard Material Transfer Agreement. The session, which was held from 12 to 16 June 2006, in Madrid, Spain, focused on a number of issues necessary for the operationalization of the Treaty. Most issues were successfully concluded, including the adoption of a standard Material Transfer Agreement, the core instrument for implementing the Treaty's multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing, and the funding strategy. The standard Material Transfer Agreement includes provisions on a fixed percentage of 1.1% that a recipient shall pay when a product is commercialized yet not available without restriction to others for further research and breeding; and 0.5% for an alternative payments scheme. The Governing Body further adopted: the rules of procedure, including decision making by consensus; financial rules with bracketed text on an indicative scale of voluntary contributions; a resolution establishing a compliance committee; the relationship agreement with the Global Crop Diversity Trust; a model agreement with the International Agricultural Research Centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and other international institutions; and the budget and work programme for 2006-2007.

Link to further information IISDRS coverage
BIODIVERSITY-RELATED MEAS DEVELOP PROJECTS TO PROMOTE KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AND HARMONIZED REPORTING

Representatives from several biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and non-governmental organizations have developed projects to promote knowledge management and harmonized national reporting. During a series of three meetings on these topics held in Cambridge, UK, from 13-16 June 2006, participants discussed the MEAs' existing information management practices, technological capacities and national reporting requirements and developed proposals for several projects to improve the interoperability of MEA information datasets, increase Secretariats' and parties' capacities, and harmonize national reporting. The UNEP-funded projects will seek to improve access and search capacities related to the participating MEAs' focal points, articles and decisions, and strategic plans, and to work towards harmonized national reporting among MEAs.

Link to further information MEA Bulletin report, 26 June 2006 (pages 4-5)
NORWAY SUBMITS PROPOSAL ON CBD-TRIPS RELATIONSHIP

Norway has submitted a proposal on suggestions for an amendment to the TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement (WT/GC/W/566). The Norwegian proposal follows a submission from a group of developing countries led by India (WT/GC/W/564/Rev.1), and expresses general support for the submission. The developing countries' proposal would amend the TRIPS Agreement by requiring patent applications to disclose the country providing genetic resources used in the invention, and evidence of compliance with the country's legal requirements for prior informed consent and benefit-sharing. Including certain different elements, the Norwegian document proposes using criminal or other legal sanctions to address non-compliance with the disclosure requirements; triggering disclosure requirements for both genetic resources and traditional knowledge, even if the latter is not associated with genetic resources. Also, it proposes sending any declarations of origin to the CBD Clearing-House Mechanism. According to recent reports, at informal consultations held on the proposals, as well as during the TRIPS Council meeting on 15 June, the US, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada still opposed amending the TRIPS Agreement to introduce disclosure requirements. Japan presented a proposal on industry experiences regarding genetic resource databases (IP/C/W/572), and Canada, Australia and New Zealand similarly shared their experiences with access and benefit-sharing. The EU repeated that it is interested in mandatory disclosure requirements, but would not support enforcement measures, including revocation of patents. Along with Switzerland, the EU would prefer to amend WIPO patent rules in this regard.

Links to further information Discussions on CBD-TRIPS gain momentum with new proposals, ICTSD Trade BioRes, 16 June 2006 The Norwegian proposal (WT/GC/W/566) is available through th... IP Watch, Brazil, India get developed country support for TRIPS amendment on biodiversity, 15 June 2006 IP Watch, EU gets little support for enforcement proposal at WTO; CBD issue unresolved, 16 June 2006 IP Watch, Inside views: India, Brazil explain need for TRIPS biodiversity amendment; plus interview with Alan Oxley, 22 June 2006
GEF Council Appoints New CEO, Makes Progress on Replenishment

9 June 2006: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council has elected a new CEO, while progress has also been reported in a GEF Trust Fund meeting on the Fourth Replenishment of its funding. Monique Barbut of France, a former Director of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, was confirmed as the new GEF CEO during the latest Council meeting, which took place from 6-9 June 2006 in Washington DC. Meanwhile, at a GEF Trust Fund meeting on the Fourth Replenishment held on 5 June, donors reportedly made significant advances towards guaranteeing pledges for the fourth replenishment at levels around 10% below current GEF funding. The Council meeting also considered the GEF's annual performance report, the Special Climate Change Fund's status report, a strategy for financing biosafety activities, a private sector strategy and progress in the implementation of the Resource Allocation Framework (RAF). [GEF Council Documents] [Press release; 9 June 2006] [GEF Fourth Replenishment documents]
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TABLE PROPOSAL TO ADDRESS CBD-TRIPS RELATIONSHIP

In an effort to begin text-based negotiations on the relationship between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the WTO Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), India, along with Brazil, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand and Tanzania, have submitted a proposal to amend the TRIPS Agreement. The relationship between the CBD and the TRIPS Agreement is an outstanding implementation issue according to the Doha Ministerial Declaration, under consideration in the TRIPS Council and in consultations under WTO Deputy Director General Rufus Yerxa, with extensive discussions on a mandatory requirement for the disclosure of origin of biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge in patent applications. The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration noted that the General Council shall review progress and take any appropriate action no later than 31 July 2006. According to the proposal, “Where the subject matter of a patent application concerns, is derived from or developed with biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, Members shall require applicants to disclose the country providing the resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, from whom in the providing country they were obtained, and, as known after reasonable inquiry, the country of origin. Members shall also require that applicants provide information including evidence of compliance with the applicable legal requirements in the providing country for prior informed consent for access and fair and equitable benefit-sharing arising from the commercial or other utilization of such resources and/or associated traditional knowledge.” Links to further information The proposal/communication from Brazil et al., 6 June 2006 (use the WTO search engine for document “WT/GC/W/564/Rev.1”) IP Watch, “Developing countries propose TRIPS amendment on disclosure,” 1 June 2006 IP Watch, “Biggest Developing Countries Present TRIPS Amendment Proposal,” 7 June 2006
Antigua Hosts Meeting on Watershed and Coastal Areas Management

June 2006: Caribbean environment and sustainable development officials have gathered in Antigua during the first week of June to discuss the implementation of an “Integrating Watershed and Coastal Areas Management” (IWCAM) project for 13 Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The IWCAM project seeks to enhance the participating countries' capacity to plan and manage their aquatic resources and ecosystems sustainably. Funding for the US$23 million project has been provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and several collaborating agencies. [IWCAM news release, 29 May 2006[ [Antigua Sun news story, June 2006]
EU GREEN WEEK DEBATES 2010 BIODIVERSITY TARGET

A series of conferences from 30 May to 2 June 2006 in Brussels has focused on the target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010. On 22 May, the European Commission presented a Communication setting out a policy approach to halting biodiversity loss, which proposed 10 priority objectives in relation to key policy areas, as well as an EU Action Plan specifying concrete actions and outlining the responsibility of community institutions and Member States. Under the theme “Biodiversity is life!” a number of debates held during the Green Week were attended by prominent speakers, including various decision makers and academics. The opening session explored the balance between exploitation and protection of natural resources. Panels were also held on issues such as the ecological footprint, the value of biodiversity, the impact of trade and what trade can do, agriculture and forests, the Natura 2000 network, and research, indicators and monitoring. There were also panels on access and benefit-sharing, oceans and seas, reconciling nature and development, ecosystem services, climate change, business and biodiversity, and the system of international governance. The closing session focused on the Countdown 2010 and the EU commitments. Links to further information Green Week website, June 2006 Daily reports Europa Press, “Commission proposes new EU plan to halt biodi... 22 May 2006 European Commission Communication, “Halting the loss of biod... 22 May 2006 Euractiv.com News, “Can EU halt animal and plant extinction?... 30 May 2006 Euractiv.com News, “Green week debate: biodiversity 2010 tar... 31 May 2006 Euractiv.com News, “Biodiversity: can EU politicians cope wi... 1 June 2006

May 2006

CODEX WORKING GROUP ADDRESSES ANIMAL BIOTECHNOLOGY STANDARDS

The Codex Alimentarius Working Group on Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Animals has continued working on the development of draft guidelines for the conduct of food safety assessments of foods derived from GM animals. During its latest meeting, held from 30 May to 1 June, in Brussels, the group's discussion and debate focused on the unique challenges posed by animal biotechnology. In particular, participants considered ways to take up concerns not related to food safety, such as environmental risks, animal welfare and ethical issues within the framework of exploring “other legitimate factors” influencing biotechnology decision-making. Link to further information ICTSD Trade BioRes news report, 2 June 2006
UN INDIGENOUS ISSUES FORUM FOCUSES ON MDGs AND AFRICA

The UN expert body on indigenous issues has focused its latest discussions on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Africa. The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues convened from 15-26 May 2006, at UN headquarters in New York, with the theme “Millennium Development Goals and indigenous peoples: redefining the Goals.” Speakers focused on the Programme of Action of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, whose end in 2015 coincides with the year benchmarked for the achievement of the MDGs. The Forum noted the need for the inclusion of indigenous peoples in all evaluation and stricter monitoring processes on the progress towards the Goals, and strongly encouraged all States to provide disaggregated data on health and social welfare indicators, to understand where indigenous societies stand in the process. The Forum also urged States and UN agencies to develop culturally-sensitive policies, programmes and projects that fully incorporated indigenous children and youth in achieving the MDGs. Following its half-day discussion on Africa and the concern for Africa's indigenous groups, the Forum called for two regional conferences in Africa to enhance indigenous organizations' capacity to engage in dialogue with governments at the country level to promote understanding of indigenous issues, including through designing regional strategies to achieve the MDGs. In anticipation of the first session of the new United Nations Human Rights Council, the Permanent Forum also recommended that indigenous issues be a standing agenda item of the Council, and due attention be paid to the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. The Forum proposed to schedule its sixth session from 14-25 May 2007, in Bangkok, Thailand; and a three-day expert group meeting on the Convention on Biological Diversity from 17-19 June 2007, at UN headquarters in New York. Links to further information UN press releases (May 2006): 26 May 2006 16 May 2006 17 May 2006 18 May 2006 19 May 2006
CODEX DISCUSSIONS ON GM FOOD LABELING TO CONTINUE IN NEW WORKING GROUP

Held from 1-5 May 2006, in Ottawa, Canada, the 34th session of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling established a working group to develop guidance on GM food labeling, notwithstanding a proposal to suspend negotiations on the issue. Exporters of GMOs, including the US, Argentina and Mexico, argued that discussions should be discontinued, due to lack of consensus, as well as to their potential implications on trade flows and the implementation of WTO rules. In particular, they resisted a voluntary standard based on the process or method of production. Several others, however, supported developing standards to provide guidance to governments in establishing labeling regulations. In the final decision, the Committee agreed to hold a working group meeting in January 2007, in Norway. The working group will look at countries' experiences with mandatory and voluntary labeling of GMOs, and forward its report to the 35th session of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling, to be held from 30 April to 4 May 2007, in Ottawa, Canada. Links to further information Codex discussions on biotech labeling survive challenge, ICT..., 19 May 2006 Consumers International press releases and daily reports, May 2006

April 2006

WIPO CREATES FUND FOR INDIGENOUS PARTICIPATION

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has created a fund to boost the involvement of indigenous and local communities in efforts to protect their cultural knowledge and arts from misuse in the world market. The voluntary fund, created at the ninth session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, held in Geneva from 24-28 April 2006, aims to provide practical support for representatives of these communities to actively participate in the process of establishing international standards to prevent the misappropriation of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. Contributions to the fund from the Swedish International Biodiversity Programme (‘SwedBio') and the French Government have been announced. According to IP Watch, developing country delegates at the meeting reiterated the need for a legally-binding instrument, while a new Norwegian proposal on the protection of traditional knowledge, but not genetic resources, received support from a number of developed countries. Highlighting disagreement over the notion of a legally binding tool, the compromise Norwegian proposal suggests focusing on areas where an agreement is within reach, and calls for a high-level declaration on these issues. It also suggests considering use of Article 10bis (preventing unfair competition) of the 1883 Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property as a model for a new instrument against misappropriation and unfair use of traditional knowledge. Discussion on these issues will continue at the tenth session of the Committee, on the basis of written comments submitted by delegations. Links to further information WIPO press release, 27 April 2006 UN press release, 27 April 2006 More information on the WIPO Voluntary Fund The working documents of the IGC ninth session The decisions of the IGC ninth session IP Watch, Nations urge legally binding biodiversity outcome ..., 25 April 2006 IP Watch, WIPO Traditional Knowledge Committee snags over fu..., 28 April 2006
ITPGR GROUP ACHIEVES PROGRESS ON MATERIAL TRANSFER AGREEMENT; BRACKETS REMAIN

A contact group established by the Interim Committee of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) has agreed on a draft standard material transfer agreement (MTA) to be used for exchange of material covered by the multilateral system established by the Treaty. However, a number of issues remain unresolved and the text is bracketed. Held from 24-28 April 2006, in Alnarp, Sweden, the second meeting of the contact group was tasked with finalizing the draft to be considered and adopted by the first session of the Treaty's Governing Body, which will be held from 12-16 June 2006, in Madrid, Spain. The recognition of the Third Party Beneficiary in the context of the standard MTA, an institution representing the Governing Body and the multilateral system, was widely considered a step forward, while unresolved issues include: the definitions of “product” and “sales,” and formula for benefit-sharing; the rights of the Third Party Beneficiary; obligations of the recipient in the case of subsequent transfers of material; dispute settlement; and applicable law. Contact group Chair Eng Siang Lim (Malaysia) established an intersessional Friends of the Chair group, which will attempt to resolve pending issues prior to the Madrid meeting. Links to further information Report of the meeting, May 2006 Meeting documents, 2006
CODEX MEETING DISAGREES ON THE NEED FOR PRINCIPLES FOR RISK ANALYSIS FOR FOOD SAFETY

Held from 10-14 April 2006, in Paris, France, the Codex Alimentarius Committee on General Principles achieved little progress on the proposed draft working principles for risk analysis for food safety, and decided to forward them to a newly established working group for examination before considering them again. While a set of Working Principles for Risk Analysis to be applied within the Codex framework have been adopted in 2002, these negotiations concern development of standards for governments, with the role of precaution being the main point of disagreement. To avoid deadlock, Members agreed to convene a working group to: discuss the rationale for guidance to governments related to the application of risk analysis by governments, on the basis of the Committee's discussions; describe the output to respond to this rationale; and draft principles on the implementation of risk analysis by governments for further discussion. Link to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, “Little progress on risk analysi... 28 April 2006
WIPO MEETING ADDRESSES PROPOSAL ON DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS

A group of developing countries have proposed taking into account disclosure of origin of genetic resources and other biodiversity-related issues in discussions on patent law. The suggestion was made at an informal meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on the Law of Patents, held from 10-12 April 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland. During the meeting, a group of developing countries suggested that discussions on the draft Substantive Law Patent Treaty, aiming to standardize and harmonize global patent rules, should take into account disclosure of origin of genetic resources and other biodiversity-related issues, including prior informed consent, benefit-sharing and exemptions from patentability. Furthermore, India proposed that the Committee hold joint meetings with the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. Member States concluded that it was premature to establish a work programme for the Committee at this stage, and decided to refer the matter to the WIPO General Assembly meeting in September 2006. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes vol.6, no.7, 14 April 2006 IP Watch, 10 April 2006 IP Watch, 11 April 2006 WIPO press release, 13 April 2006
SCIENTIFIC SEMINAR ADDRESSES AVIAN FLU, THE ENVIRONMENT, MIGRATORY BIRDS

Organized by UNEP Division of Early Warning and Assessment, in cooperation with the Convention on Migratory Species and its Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds, the Scientific Seminar on Avian Influenza, the Environment and Migratory Birds met from 10-11 April 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya. The Seminar aimed to review the latest scientific studies concerning the evolution and spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza subtype H5N1, and its impact on wild birds and the wider environment, including assessing risks of transmission and identifying optimal mitigation measures. Its output included a press release and a summary document with recommendations for decision makers, the media and other stakeholders, addressing: surveillance; early warning and risk assessment; priority short-term needs; longer-term needs; collaboration and cooperation; and next steps. Link to further information IISDRS coverage of the seminar
GABON EVENT FOCUSES ON IMPLEMENTING ENVIRONMENTAL TREATIES

Applying and monitoring biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements at the national level was the focus of a recent meeting for Gabonese parliamentarians. The meeting, which took place on 3 April 2006, in Libreville, Gabon, sought to strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians and other stakeholders to comply with and enforce biodiversity-related MEAs. It was organized by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, UNEP, and the Ministry for the Environment and the Protection of Nature of Gabon. Participants gained first-hand insight in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention, CITES, UNCCD and the CBD in Gabon through presentations by national focal points. UNEP also briefed participants on questions related to the coordination of environmental issues in the UN system and recent attempts to strengthen system-wide coherence. Link to further information Ramsar press release, 20 April 2006
MEETING DISCUSSES LIVESTOCK BIODIVERSITY, INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

Organized by the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development, discussions held from 27 March to 2 April 2006, in Bellagio, Italy, highlighted issues related to livestock biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights. Participants addressed threats to the livelihoods of pastoralists and smallholder farmers, issues resulting from the patenting of breeding processes and individual genes, livestock keepers' rights to develop their own breeding stock and breeding practices and the advantages of locally developed breeds. Links to further information The Bellagio Brief (meeting report), April 2006 Presentations from the meeting, April 2006

March 2006

CBD COP-8 CONCLUDES – FOCUS ON PROCESS, FEW SUBSTANTIVE STEPS TAKEN

Attracting the largest number of participants in the history of the Convention, a record participation of stakeholders and an unprecedented series of side events, the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity concluded negotiations with few substantive results. CBD COP-8 was held from 20-31 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil, immediately following the third Meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP-3) to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and attracted approximately 3,900 delegates representing parties and other governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental, non-governmental, indigenous and local community organizations, academia and industry. In terms of substantive achievements, the adoption of the new island biodiversity work programme was hailed as a success by small island developing States, while the decision to reaffirm the COP-5 ban on field testing of genetic use restriction technologies and reject case-by-case risk assessments was celebrated by many countries, NGOs and indigenous representatives. However, on the two topics that largely dominated the meeting's agenda, access and benefit-sharing (ABS) and marine protected areas, discussions focused on process. The decision on ABS focused on identifying future steps with regard to the negotiation of an international regime on ABS, while discussions on marine protected areas sought to redefine the Convention's role in relation to high seas protected areas. Link to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting
GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY FORUM FOCUSES ON THE 2010 TARGET

Held on 24-25 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil, the 20th session of the Global Biodiversity Forum held a series of workshops focusing on the 2010 target to reduce significantly the rate of biodiversity loss. The workshops addressed: reaffirming the role of biodiversity in achieving the Millennium Development Goals; financing biodiversity action for achieving the 2010 targets; measuring progress towards the 2010 targets; thinking global and acting local – taking 2010 forward; and verifying biodiversity trade: 2010 challenges. Link to further information GBF web site
MEETING RAISES CONCERNS OF AVIAN FLU'S IMPACT ON WILDLIFE

A brainstorming meeting on avian flu has raised special concerns over the potential impact of avian flu in biodiversity “hot spot” areas. The meeting, which was held in Curitiba, Brazil on 19 March 2006, recommended a number of measures, including: increased surveillance and monitoring of wild birds and mammals in affected countries; beefed up training of wildlife and veterinary staff in developing countries; increased surveillance and possibly tougher penalties for illegal traders in wild birds and mammals; vaccination of rare species at risk both in the wild and in zoos; and realistic compensation for owners of culled poultry in poor countries, possibly through increases in overseas development aid. Links to further information Bird flu may prove big threat to biological diversity – UN E..., UN news release, 22 March 2006 The report of the meeting, March 2006
EXPERT WORKSHOP ADDRESSES PROTECTED AREAS

An expert workshop on protected areas in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has taken place in Curitiba, Brazil. The workshop, which was held on 17 and 18 March 2006, aimed to facilitate an informed review at the eighth Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP-8) of the implementation of activities/elements of the work programme on protected areas, and a draft revised evaluation matrix. For each goal of the work programme, the evaluation matrix includes the criteria and information needed to assess implementation, possible sources of information and the description of progress and main obstacles. During the two-day workshop, participants suggested further modifications to the matrix, and made comments on the review of implementation, particularly on difficulties in reporting on progress in implementation. The report of the expert workshop was submitted to CBD COP-8 as an information document (UNEP/CBD/COP/8/INF/28). More information: IISD RS coverage of the meeting
BIOSAFETY MEETING ADOPTS DECISION ON DOCUMENTATION OF GM COMMODITIES

The third Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP-3) has ended with agreement on detailed documentation requirements for living modified organisms for food, feed, or processing (LMO-FFPs), as set out in Article 18.2(a) of the Protocol. Ten months earlier, at COP/MOP-2, Parties had been unable to reach consensus on this issue, thus missing the deadline for resolution laid out in the text of the Protocol. Adoption of a compromise package on documentation requirements for LMO-FFPs was heralded as a key step forward in the Protocol's implementation. The decision requests parties to take measures to ensure that documentation accompanying LMO-FFPs in commercial production is in compliance with the requirements of the country of import and clearly states: in cases where the identity of the LMO is known through identity preservation systems, that the shipment “contains” LMO-FFPs; and in cases where the identity of the LMOs is not known, that the shipment “may contain” LMO-FFPs. COP/MOP-5 will review experience gained with these provisions, with a view to considering a decision at COP/MOP-6 to ensure that documentation clearly states that the shipment “contains” LMO-FFPs. COP/MOP-6 is expected to convene in 2012. Held from 13-17 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil, COP/MOP-3 also considered reports on ongoing activities under the Protocol, as well as other issues such as risk assessment and risk management, compliance, monitoring and reporting, and assessment and review of implementation. More information: IISD RS coverage of the meeting
CBD-TRIPS DISCUSSIONS RESUME

Differences on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity remained at the TRIPS Council meeting held on 14-15 March 2006. Further submissions, however, shed light on Members' positions. In its new submission, the US reiterated its opposition to the proposed multilateral requirement for disclosure of origin of biological materials and related traditional knowledge in patent applications, arguing that disclosure requirements would not prevent mistakenly issued patents and indicating the necessity for national laws on access and benefit-sharing, outside the patent system. Proponents of the requirements acknowledged that disclosure requirements were in themselves unlikely to stop biopiracy. They indicated, however, that the problem is not only the quality of patents, but also the lack of knowledge regarding foreign patent applications involving their genetic resources. In another submission, they provided definitions of the technical elements required to fulfill the Doha Declaration paragraph 19 mandate on the CBD-TRIPS relationship. In separate informal consultations mandated under paragraph 12 of the Doha Declaration and led by WTO Deputy Director-General Rufus Yerxa, members examined a list of eleven questions on the CBD-TRIPS relationship, focusing on the different arguments for and against disclosure requirements. These consultations continued on 23 March, with China and Norway joining Brazil, Peru, India and other developing countries calling for text-based negotiations on disclosure. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 17 March 2006 IP Watch, 15 March 2006 IP Watch, 16 March 2006 IP Watch, 24 March 2006

February 2006

APEC MEETING ADDRESSES IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL

Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group have held the fifth meeting of the high-level policy dialogue to address implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and examine biotechnology policy development, implementation and communication. The meeting took place from 26-27 February 2006, in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Prior to the event, a private sector meeting was held, on 25 February, to provide an opportunity for APEC officials to learn about developments in agricultural biotechnology. With regards to the Biosafety Protocol, the high-level policy dialogue was widely viewed as a final opportunity for APEC members to address the issues before the third meeting of the Parties to the Protocol, to be held from 13-17 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil. Participants continued the discussion, initiated at the fourth meeting, on the benefits of intra-governmental coordination and the examination of costs/benefits and trade implications of the Protocol's implementation. Link to further information APEC news release, 25 February 2006
BIOSAFETY WORKING GROUP PROGRESSES ON LIABILITY ISSUES

The Working Group on liability under the Biosafety Protocol was able to make some progress on the scope of damage resulting from transboundary movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) during its latest meeting in Montreal. Progress was also reported on the definition of damage and establishment of a causal link, and the actor to be held liable. The second meeting of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress in the Protocol's context convened from 20-24 February 2006, just weeks before the third meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, to be held from 13-17 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil. Deliberations were based on a working draft prepared by Co-Chairs René Lefeber (the Netherlands) and Jimena Nieto (Colombia). The draft synthesized proposed texts and views submitted by governments and other stakeholders on approaches, options and issues pertaining to liability and redress. These covered matters such as effectiveness criteria, scope, definition and valuation of damage, causation, channeling of liability, standard of liability, limitation of liability, and mechanisms of financial security. According to many participants, progress was made as the Working Group considered all the options identified in the Co-Chairs' synthesis, and delegates submitted operational texts on scope, definition and valuation of damage and causation. Following informal consultations held throughout the week, a non-negotiated and non-exhaustive indicative list of criteria for the assessment of the effectiveness of any rules and procedures referred to under Article 27 of the Protocol was annexed to the meeting's report. Link to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting
EUROPEAN MEETINGS ADDRESS BIODIVERSITY LOSS; REPORTS URGE GREATER EFFORTS

Meetings to consider biodiversity loss have been briefed on the need to increase efforts to address the problem. The fourth Intergovernmental Conference “Biodiversity in Europe” and the tenth meeting of the Council of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy were held from 22-24 February 2006, in Lake Plitvice National Park, Croatia. Participants considered issues on the agenda of the upcoming eighth Conference of the Parties to the CBD, focusing on island biodiversity, communication, education and public awareness, and the Global Taxonomy Initiative. The meeting also explored the status of implementation of the biodiversity commitments in the European region, including strategic issues for evaluating progress, such as the European 2010 biodiversity indicators, forest biodiversity, agriculture, protected areas and ecological networks, and invasive alien species. Officials from 40 European governments and 32 environmental organizations recognized the need to redouble their efforts if they are to achieve the goal agreed in Kiev in 2003 of halting the decline in Europe's biological diversity by 2010. They noted that, despite many positive developments, biodiversity continues to decline at a rapid pace throughout Europe. The meeting agreed to step up regional cooperation and strengthen partnerships with the forestry, agriculture and other economics-driven sectors, and stressed the need to inform the public about the many economic benefits derived from biodiversity. One of the meeting's highlights was the opening of the Museum of Culture and Nature of the Convention on Biological Diversity. A report prepared for the meeting by the Countdown 2010 Secretariat concluded that Europe is performing poorly on seven out of eight indicators of impact on biodiversity, including forests, agriculture and invasive alien species, with global warming, urbanization and pollution identified as major challenges. Protected areas was the only measure indicating positive developments, as the report found that there has been a significant increase in coverage of protected areas over the past decade, although efforts are needed to increase protected area coverage in marine ecosystems and to ensure the effective management of protected areas. Another report, published by the European Environmental Bureau, found that the slow application of the Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment, aimed at ensuring that the environmental consequences of big plans and development projects are carefully assessed during their preparation, could undermine Europe's objective to stop the loss of its biodiversity by 2010. Finally, a new WWF report shows that vast sums of EU money are spent on roads, dams and irrigation schemes which threaten critically endangered species and key habitats in Europe. In many cases, EU funds are being used for activities that are recognized as major threats by the EU itself. Links to further information The Strategy Guide web site Ministry of Culture - Republic of Croatia Europeans seek funds and political will to save biodiversity, Environment News Service, 27 February 2006 Convention on Biological Diversity, 22 February 2006 Europe gets poor marks in halting species loss, Reuters News Service, 21 February 2006 UNEP/Council of Europe report regarding Pan-European progres..., February 2006 Slow application of SEA Directive undermines EU efforts to h..., European Environmental Bureau press release, 23 February 2006 European Environmental Bureau, Biodiversity in Strategic Env..., December 2005 World's most endangered cat species threatened by EU funds, WWF press release, 3 March 2006 WWF, Conflicting EU Funds: pitting conservation against unsu...
WORKING GROUP DISCUSSES MARINE BIODIVERSITY IN AREAS BEYOND NATIONAL JURISDICTION

An informal United Nations working group has convened to discuss biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdictions. The Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group of the General Assembly to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction convened from 13-17 February 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. Participants agreed on the need for short-term measures to address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and destructive fishing practices as the most urgent threats to marine biodiversity, as well as institutional coordination. Many delegates also agreed that there should be an ongoing process to advance discussions on sharing the benefits from marine genetic resources, avoiding the adverse impacts of marine scientific research on marine biodiversity, and facilitating the establishment of high seas marine protected areas. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting
EAST AFRICA DIALOGUE CONSIDERS BIOTECHNOLOGY, TRADE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

An Eastern African Dialogue on Biotechnology Policy-making, Trade and Sustainable Development was organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the African Technology Policy Studies Network. The meeting was held from 15-17 February 2006, in Jinja, Uganda, and was co-hosted by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development. With the aim of supporting the formulation of coherent, informed and inclusive policies on trade, biotechnology and sustainable development at the national, regional and multilateral levels, the dialogue aimed to facilitate the exchange of views among stakeholders, identify commonalities and differences in countries' and stakeholders' priorities and approaches, support the understanding of East African concerns in global debates, and strengthen the capacity to integrate the policy issues at the interface of trade, biotechnology and sustainability. Link to further information ICTSD webpage, February 2006
PROVISIONAL WTO RULING ON GMO PRODUCTS REJECTS EU MORATORIUM AND MEMBER STATES' BANS

The World Trade Organization has produced a long-awaited provisional decision on the trade dispute between the EU and the US, Canada and Argentina on the moratorium for the approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the EU and the ban by several EU states on specific biotech products. This provisional decision, which will be circulated to parties to the dispute, addresses three main issues. Firstly, it confirms that a de facto moratorium on GMO-product approvals existed in the EC between 1998 and 2003, resulting in a failure to complete individual approval procedures without undue delay, as required by the SPS Agreement (Article 8 and Annex C). Secondly, the decision concludes that this moratorium resulted in undue delays in the approval procedures of 24 biotech products. Thirdly, it establishes that countries which banned specific products that were previously approved for use within the EC did not provide sufficient scientific evidence to justify risks to human health and/or the environment, thus failing to meet obligations under the SPS Agreement. Pursuant to these findings, the Panel requests the EC to bring the relevant measures in conformity with its obligations under the SPS Agreement, although it recognizes the end of the de facto moratorium with the approval of Bt-11 sweet maize in 2004, and thus makes no recommendations on its first point. Links to further information Provisional WTO Panel decision, February 2006 Development of the EU biotech case, Trade & Environment.org website, February 2006 ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest coverage, 8 February ...
CBD WORKING GROUP DISCUSSES ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING

The Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has continued talks on an international regime and agreed on a draft to serve as the basis for future negotiations. Convened from 30 January to 3 February 2006, in Granada, Spain, the fourth meeting of the CBD Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on ABS followed the fourth meeting of the CBD Ad Hoc Open-ended Intersessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions. The meeting made some progress on the international regime, agreeing on a recommendation to the COP and a draft to serve as the basis for future negotiations. This draft, although bracketed almost in its entirety, contains a structure and core issues that may allow for a more formalized negotiation process to take place at COP-8 and beyond. However, deep divisions remain among the key players on issues such as: the need for a new instrument and whether it should contain legally binding elements; the inclusion of derivatives and products of genetic resources; disclosure requirements in applications for intellectual property rights; and the participation of indigenous and local communities in the ABS negotiations. The recommendations of the Working Group will be submitted to CBD COP-8, to be held from 20-31 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil. Link to further information IISD coverage of the ABS meeting
AFRICAN UNION AND FAO FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE, BIOTECHNOLOGY

Two meetings held in Mali have focused on agriculture issues in the context of Africa. The African Union Conference of Ministers of Agriculture was held from 31 January to 1 February 2006, in Bamako, Mali. The FAO 24th Regional Conference for Africa was held in the same location from 31 January to 3 February. The meetings focused on food security in Africa, including seeds and biotechnology, agrarian reform, rural finance and the Millennium Development Goals. An experts' meeting held on 31 January called on the African Union to create a high-level panel of eminent personalities on food security in Africa to provide advice on strategies for the development of agricultural production and mobilization of resources for eradicating poverty and food insecurity. The FAO meeting also discussed a proposal on an African Seed and Biotechnology Programme, aimed to provide a strategic approach for the comprehensive development of the seed sector and biotechnology in Africa, taking into account the different needs of the countries and regions. Links to further information Website of the African Union conference, February 2006 Report of the experts meeting, February 2006 Report of the Ministers meeting, February 2006 Documents of the FAO Conference, 2006
WORLD HERITAGE CENTRE TO SUPPORT THE CBD WORK PROGRAMME ON PROTECTED AREAS

In a meeting held from 30 January to 1 February 2006, in Paris, France, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre considered actions to support implementation of the CBD work programme on protected areas in natural World Heritage sites. Deliberations resulted in the identification of concrete activities under six broad headings to be followed up in the short, medium and longer term: contributing to the implementation of the work programme elements in World Heritage sites; supporting the implementation of the World Heritage Convention; supporting the World Heritage Centre in providing training and capacity-building opportunities to World Heritage site stakeholders; information exchange; developing large scale initiatives suitable for external financing; and reporting to the World Heritage Centre and the CBD Secretariat. Link to further information World Heritage Centre press release, 23 February 2006

January 2006

CBD WORKING GROUP DISCUSSED TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE, ESTABLISHES VOLUNTARY FUND FOR INDIGENOUS PARTICIPATION

Participants attending a Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Working Group have addressed issues of traditional knowledge protection and agreed on a voluntary fund for indigenous and local community participation in the process. The fourth meeting of the Ad hoc Open-ended Intersessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met from 23-27 January 2006, in Granada, Spain. The meeting was held in a cooperative spirit, with all recommendations adopted by Friday at noon and progress achieved on some important issues. Delegates considered an ethical code of conduct for the respect of the cultural and intellectual heritage of indigenous and local communities, and established a participatory and time-bound process aiming for its adoption by COP-9. The creation of a voluntary funding mechanism for indigenous and local community representatives to participate in the CBD process was also hailed as an important step towards improving inclusiveness and enhancing indigenous participation in the framework of the Convention. Progress was generally thought to be slower on genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs), as the Working Group reaffirmed a previous COP Decision, invited the World Intellectual Property Organization to report on GURTs patents and recommended studies on their socioeconomic impacts. Finally, on collaboration with the CBD Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) regarding the negotiation of an international ABS regime, some initial steps were taken to enhance indigenous participation in the ABS discussions, and the issue is expected to be revised during the fourth meeting of the ABS Working Group, taking place in Granada from 30 January to 3 February. The Working Group recommendations will be submitted to COP-8, to be held from 20-31 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil. Link to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting
RANGE STATES ADDRESS THREATS TO THE ASIAN ELEPHANT

A meeting of the 13 Asian countries which still have wild elephant populations has taken place. The meeting was held from 24-26 January 2006, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Convened by the Government of Malaysia and facilitated by the Species Survival Commission of IUCN, the meeting aimed to achieve regional consensus on ways to secure the future of the species. Discussions focused on lessons learned, sharing of expertise and transboundary cooperation. Link to further information IUCN news release, 27 January 2006